News / Africa

Rights Group Calls on South Sudan to Stop Harassing Journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 10 journalists
The Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 10 journalists "and probably many more" have been harassed since South Sudan plunged into conflict eight months ago.
Lucy PoniMugume Davis Rwakaringi

International media rights organization the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on the authorities in South Sudan to ensure the safety of freelance journalist Abraham Agoth and others who have been harassed for their reporting during eight months of conflict in the country.

Agoth became concerned for his safety and went into hiding last month, CPJ East Africa Representative Tom Rhodes said, adding that his case is not isolated.

“Since this conflict began, I believe we have come across at least 10 cases -- and there are probably many more -- where journalists are harassed or threatened with arrest for their reporting," Rhodes said.

"It goes along with this notion that some of the authorities want journalists not to cover the conflict or at least cover only their side of the conflict," he said.

Agoth's problems began in early July when he was called to the office of Northern Bahr el Ghazal caretaker governor Kuel Aguer Kuel and questioned about his reporting of protests by shop owners in Aweil, who said the police were not doing enough to protect them from burglars. 

Officials were also reportedly upset at Agoth’s reporting on security issues in the state, and he was warned not to report on attacks by rebels in the state.

That warning echoed what Information Minister Michael Makuei told South Sudan in Focus earlier this year -- that broadcasting or publishing interviews with rebel leaders inside South Sudan was "subversive activity" and could put the journalist on the wrong side of the law.

Journalists self-censor

Rhodes said the authorities' stance is leading journalists in South Sudan to self-censor their work at a time when the country needs accurate reporting.

"Maybe the biggest problem, the most pervasive problem journalists are facing now is the steady flow of intimidation, whether by the authorities or the rebel movement, to go silent, to self censor," he said.

"That is a very worrying trend for us, particularly at this time when South Sudanese citizens really need to know what is going on,” Rhodes said.

While there is a need for balanced and professional reporting, and officials are justifiably concerned with media reports that incite panic or violence, there is no reason for government officials to crack down on journalists during times of conflict.

Presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny insisted that the conditions under which journalists work in South Sudan are not as bad as are being reported.

“I see South Sudan as one of the countries that allow freedom of expression... in the sense that even some journalists can contact the rebels and play the response of rebels inside South Sudan,” he said.

Ateny denied that tthe government has a policy of cracking down on the media but admitted that some journalists may have been harassed.

But he said any instances of harassment of journalists were "isolated" and could have happened "anywhere in the world."

Agoth reports for South Sudan in Focus, for the Gurtong Trust and independent newspaper, The Patriot.

Mugume Davis Rwakaringi reported from Juba.

 

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: uria guya from: juba
August 07, 2014 4:29 PM
The journalist must report responsible,

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More